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Writing Center: Outlines

A guide to information to help you research and write more effectively.


Once you have determined your main points, assemble a working outline. The outline can range from a simple sketch of what you essay will look like to a specific point by point outline complete with topic sentences. The idea is to provide yourself with a visual diagram of where your essay will go. The outline shows the sequence of your essay and the main ideas to keep in mind while writing. Three types of outlines are most commonly used. They are: alphanumeric outline, full sentence outline, and decimal outline. Sample outlines listed below are borrowed from Purdue Owl site.

Alphanumeric Outline

Full Sentence Outline

Decimal Outline